Behavior vs. behaviour

Behavior is the preferred spelling in American English. Behaviour is preferred everywhere else. Other than the spelling, there is no difference between the two words. The spelling distinction extends to all derivatives, including behaviorsbehaviours, behavioralbehavioural, and behaviorallybehaviourally.


For example, these American publications use behavior:

His behavior has cost him a seat in Congress. [Miami Herald]

When the frontal lobes are compromised, people become disinhibited, and startling behaviors can emerge. [The Atlantic]

The average behavioral differences between large samples of moms and dads are small, in statistical terms. [Wall Street Journal]

And these non-U.S. publications prefer behaviour:

Their crew was one of six boats that was punished by officials for bad behaviour during the 200-year-old competition. [Telegraph]

Road bullying is driver behaviour which intimidates other road users. [Sydney Morning Herald]

That’s a specific behavioural tick, and, what’s more, not a condition generally described as a nuisance. [National Post]

14 thoughts on “Behavior vs. behaviour”

  1. Leaving out the ‘U’ spellings in American English make no sense. ‘our’ has a certain pronunciation and they take it away from the word, and therefore it doesn’t make sense at all. Do they spell ‘flour’ as ‘flor’? No, didn’t think so. It’s such a random language and breaks every rule of the English language.

    • Hey kid, I’m 11, and when you spend more time online, you learn that not everybody uses perfect capitalization.

    • I’m older than 10 and I can tell you that they shouldn’t. 10yrs old rules are meant to be broken. Like Father Christmas. You’ll understand eventually.

  2. Behaviour Analysts would argue that it is ‘Behaviour’ is a collective term so it both singular and plural. There is no such word as ‘behaviours’.

    • Walking at night is one behaviour, drinking to excess is another behaviour, shouting incoherently is a third behaviour. Fill the blank: “These _________ when found together indicate an individual may be having some difficulty with their lifestyle.”


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